Posts Tagged ‘Bret Hart’

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WWE have been slow to release this year’s Hall Of Fame inductees. At the very least, the company have usually announced the class headliner by this point, but with rumours of The Undertaker as a potential inductee still swirling, it looks like the original Hart Foundation are on their way in.

This is according to a new report from PWInsider, who claim that the group’s original trio of Jimmy Hart, Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart, and Jim ‘The Anvil’ Neidhart will soon be confirmed for the Hall Of Fame’s class of 2019.

Bret and Jimmy are already part of the Hall Of Fame on their own. Neidhart, who passed away on 13 August 2018, is not.

What’s interesting about this induction is that there’s no sign of ‘Dangerous’ Danny Davis (who was with the group from 1987 to 1988), Owen Hart (part of The New Hart Foundation from 1994 onwards), or Brian Pillman and Davey Boy Smith, who helped reprise the group in 1997.

The original incarnation is, without question, the Foundation’s most legendary form, and their induction would suggest that the long-rumoured New World Order induction perhaps isn’t on the cards this coming April.

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Before Glenn Jacobs was the Mayor of Knox County, Tennessee, he was “The Big Red Machine” Kane. But before he was Kane, Jacobs was forced into a number of failed characters. One of the most notable characters fans would remember is Isaac Yankem.

Jacobs was recently a guest on The Steve Austin Showand gave the backstory of how he was pitched the wrestling dentist gimmick. When he signed with WWE, Jacobs received a face-to-face meeting with WWE Chairman Vince McMahon himself, and it was the boss who delivered the news of what his character would be.

“[One] guy I owe a lot to is of course Jim Ross. Jim Rosswas on hiatus to WWE, but he was working as Jim Cornette’s announcer. Within a month or two, and of course Jim Ross likes big guys, so immediately he got me a tryout with WWE so I was super excited. I had to have my tryout match with Reno Riggins, and of course Reno was a great worker, and within literally a couple of days Jim Cornettetalks to me and says that they are going to sign me and that they want me. I was really excited and thought this is exactly what I wanted to do. I received a phone call to meet with Vince McMahon and at the time JJ Dillon was the Head of Talent Relations. They take me to the office in Stamford, Connecticut,” Jacobs said. “I am sitting in the room with JJ and Vince McMahon walks in. You hear all this stuff about Vince McMahon and how he is an evil genius and how he is going to get in your mind and figure out what you are thinking. We are sitting there and having small talk and everything is going well and Vince asked me if I had ever been afraid to go to the Dentist? I am thinking that this is one of those things where I am going through a personality test, so I said no sir. He said that he has always had this idea of a wrestling Dentist, ‘Isaac Yankem, I.Yankem.’ He starts doing the Vince laugh and I am looking at him like I am trying to break into the big leagues and I am blank faced and trying not to react, then he looks at me and says that he thinks that I would be great for it and then he walks out.”

Jacobs admitted that he wasn’t convinced that this gimmick would be a good idea, and it turned out he was right. He said he didn’t enjoy anything about the character, and he especially hated having to paint his teeth. He understandably felt out of place and inferior to the other WWE superstars.

“I am sitting there at first like I am on top of the world to now the world feeling like it is falling down on me. Wrestling Dentist? How am I going to pull this off? I spoke with Jim Cornette and told him that I don’t know about this whole Dentist thing. He says to me, ‘Oh, it will be fine. That is just his first thought. They will eventually come up with something cool.’ Two months later I speak with Cornette and he is working in creative with WWE. He tells me that the good news is that you are going to be coming up really soon, but the bad news is you are coming up as the dentist. I was thinking, oh man, but what was I going to do? If I wanted to advance my career basically I had to take a shot,” he said. “It just got worse. I had to put paint on my teeth to make it look like my teeth were in decay. Everyone else had this cool music but I had this drill and I was thinking, golly. I just wasn’t ready to do it. I am sitting and watching The Undertaker and now I am in the ring with him and business was a little different back then. Undertaker was one of the few guys who took me under their wings, but a lot of the other guys it was just about them. It wasn’t the best experience, let me put it that way. Now they made an action figure about it. I will never get away from it.”

It wasn’t all bad, however, as Jacobs was able to find a bright spot from his short time as Isaac Yankem. He was able to work a program with Bret Hart, and Jacobs said he relished the experience. His only wish was that he could have worked with Hart when he was Kane.

“The thing about the Isaac Yankem character was that despite never considering it a success it was a success and it got my foot in the door. It showed Vince McMahon that I had a work ethic and I wanted to do this but the character just wasn’t for me or felt comfortable doing. I had the opportunity of working with guys like Bret Hart, who legitimately is one of the best of all-time,” he said. “My first match was at SummerSlam and it was against Bret Hart. We were the semi-main event. It doesn’t get any bigger than that. Bret has always been good to me. Luckily, I had much more success with the Kane character and I think looking back now, I wish I was doing Kane when Bret Hart was still in WWE. I think we could have had some killer matches, but yeah, he was always great to me and working with him was a tremendous experience.”

Jacobs also discussed another failed character, Fake Diesel. He said he thought the concept was good in theory, but it would never have worked because Jim Ross could never work as a heel. Even so, he was happy not to be Isaac Yankem anymore.

“Ironically, I think Gerald Brisco told me while we were in South Africa or Kuwait, I can’t remember which one, but he told me that Vince McMahon wanted to talk to me when I got home. I came home from overseas and Vince explains to me what they want to do and that I am going to be the fake Diesel. The concept of the storyline was excellent,” he said. “What had happened was that JR was going to turn heel and that he was going to reveal that he was the creative mastermind of WWE’s success and it was going to be me and the fake Razor Ramon. The problem is that JR is not likened to a heel character because people really like him so that didn’t work very well. When we are looking at storylines, yes, the concept is great but it just doesn’t work in reality because a lot of what we do is based on the audience to accept that and they didn’t really accept this whole thing. No matter what, it was the fake Diesel and the fake Razor Ramon. At least I wasn’t a dentist anymore.”

Owen Hart passed away during a tragic accident on live pay-per-view. His death during Over The Edge on May 23rd, 1999 resulted in an out of court settlement with WWE for approximately $18 million on November 2nd, 2000. Owen’s widow Martha Hart has been adamant about not associating her husband’s name with WWE since.

Davey Boy Smith, Jr. recently joined X-Pac 12360 and opened up about Owen’s absence from the WWE Hall Of Fame.

“I wish Owen could get inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame but unfortunately, it doesn’t look like it’s gonna happen. The only way I could see it happening… is like Martha [Hart], her deal is that she doesn’t want WWE to make a profit off of it.

“I can’t speak for Martha, but if WWE were to say, ‘okay we’re gonna induct Owen Hart into the Hall of Fame and earnings or whatever profits we make will be donated to the Owen Hart Foundation,’ I think she might be more willing to do something like that. But even then I don’t think she’s gonna let that happen. I understand where she’s coming from, she was Owen’s wife, that’s fair, I can’t really argue that. I do think it would be great for him to be inducted.”

Owen was recently inducted into the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall Of Fame and many members of the Hart Family including Smith Jr. were present although Martha and Bret Hart were unable to attend.

Bret Hart recently spoke about Martha’s unwillingness to allow Owen’s place in the WWE Hall Of Fame during a July interview with CBS’ In This CornerMark Henry made a plea for Owen’s WWE Hall Of Fame induction during his own induction speech during this year’s ceremony and Hart echoed that sentiment.

“I think Martha, Owen’s widow she’s a very obtuse, square-headed person,” Hart said. “I think she’s done more to erase my brother Owen’s memory than she ever did to remember him. I think it really bothers me that the fans that loved Owen so much didn’t get a chance to remember him. You do these kind of things for people are here, left to remember them.

“I mean Owen, it would never matter to him if he was in the Hall Of Fame but I think that you know it would mean a lot to different family members in my family. I know Mark Henry as an example gave a strong speech or talk this year about getting Owen into the Hall Of Fame and I totally agree.”

Martha replied to Bret via a press release saying The Hitman’s comments were “reckless, irresponsible, and clearly untrue.”

“Bret’s comments are rooted in the fact that I have steadfastly refused to work with the WWE to exploit Owen’s image for commercial gain,” Martha continued. “Owen was an incredible entertainer and I know that his many fans around the world enjoyed his wrestling career immensely. I encourage them to continue to do so. But I am firm in my belief that the WWE was responsible for Owen’s death. As a result, I cannot and will not support any efforts by the WWE to profit from Owen’s memory.

“Bret Hart’s comments are disrespectful and cruel. It is disappointing that so many in the media have chosen to report them without seeking my perspective. Whatever Bret may believe, the fact is that, far from “erasing” Owen’s memory, I have devoted the last 20 years to celebrating his life in a very public way. I can think of very few people who have been remembered so glowingly by their spouse.”

Bret followed-up his previous stance via a Facebook post explaining why he wants to see his brother take a place in the WWE Hall Of Fame, but he gave a glowing endorsement to the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall Of Fame, an honor Bret received in 2006 as well. He once again brought up Henry’s request for Owen’s WWE Hall Of Fame induction while noting that the professional wrestling fans Martha sat next to during all of the Stampede Wrestling shows they used to attend are some of the same people who desperately want to see Owen’s induction as well.

“Earlier this year, Mark Henry took time during his WWE Hall of Fame induction to specifically address Martha. With tears in his eyes, Henry pleaded with her to allow Owen to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. My nieces and nephews were in the audience with tears in their eyes as he expressed how much he deserved to be there with his peers. Fans have told me they had tears in their eyes when they watched the moment on television. Those same fans Martha sat side-by-side with at Stampede Wrestling and WWE events. Those same fans that donate to the Owen Hart Foundation and helped make it what it is today because they remember the joy he brought to their lives and not by how he died. Those royalty checks she receives from the company she says she doesn’t want any part of? Those are also from those same fans. To her, their tears do not matter. To me, that is cruel and hurtful.

“It is true that Martha and I were close at one time. I was right by her side after Owen’s death until she received her settlement from WWE and proclaimed me a “pest”. Martha later declared herself and her children Harts in name only, called us all “black sheep”, and ceased contact with the rest of the Hart family. She further isolated from us when we all came together in 2010 to honour our father Stu being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame and participated in a DVD that celebrated our family (Hart & Soul). Owen’s children do not have a relationship with his brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, and cousins. One of my nieces, in fact, named her son Owen after him. I do not know Oje and I wouldn’t know Athena if she walked passed me on the street. Owen’s children only know of their father’s family by what is told by their mother, whatever that may be, painting us all with one broad brush. To block Owen’s children from knowing their father’s family, to me, is cruel, reckless, and irresponsible.”

Seth Rollins recently spoke to GiveMeSport where he discussed what it was like to have a close working relationship with Vince McMahon. He praised McMahon for maintaining his passion for the business after all these years as he continues to work hard into his seventies.

“Vince is great. He’s fantastic first off. My relationship with him is very, very good. He’s just such an eccentric dude. He’s always got something for ya. He’s 71-years-old now and he’s sharp as a knife so he’s a lot of fun to be around. He’s always got good feedback. Still watches it, still loves it. That’s the crazy thing.

“He still comes to work every single week and he still loves it. He still loves what he does. He loves being around it, he loves watching it, analyzing it, thinking about it. So it’s just cool to be around a guy like that.”

Rollins addressed the backstage reaction to comments Bret Hart made in 2016 when he said The Architect is unsafe in the ring. This came after Finn Balorsuffered a shoulder injury following a bucklebomb to the barricade from Rollins at SummerSlam 2016. He said people backstage didn’t take the comments too seriously and were also supportive.

“I have no idea if [McMahon] even knew what Bret was saying about me as far as that’s concerned,” Rollins continued. But yeah, I got support from guys in the locker room who were like, ‘what is this guy even talking about? Why is he saying this stuff? It’s just ridiculous.’

“So yeah, it was here and there but most people really didn’t take it too seriously because it was so off the wall. So yeah people just make jokes about it for the most part.”

Bret Hart’s exit from the WWF after the 1997 Survivor Series is a legendary story. After the Montreal Screwjob cost Hart his WWF World Heavyweight Championship, he had a conversation with Vince McMahon backstage in a closed office. This meeting resulted in Hart punching McMahon in the face on his last night with the company. Hart recently spoke to the In This Corner podcast about that fateful night in Montreal where Hart said he considers it a defining moment in his career.

“In some ways, I’m not so proud of that moment but in a lot of ways, I think it was the single defining moment of my lifetime,” Hart said. “You know I often second guess a lot of what I did that day punching Vince and you know I think it made me feel good a few months ago when Chris Jericho was on a podcast and he was talking about Bret Hart should have done this or Bret Hart should have done that, but all these people who are talking about me they don’t know my circumstance. They don’t know what rights I had in my contract that gave me legal precedent. I had creative control for my last sixty days right there I was legally in the right to do the things I stood up for.”

Hart said what it came down to was Shawn Michaels telling him that he wasn’t going to put The Hitman over. He said it was a professional discourtesy and many other people would have taken the same tact as he did. Hart also said it was a “bunch of bad guys that were up to no good” before continuing to explain the situation he was in.

“It kinda stings when I think of how much I gave to WWF and how they just wanted to stab me in the back that day and sweep me out the back door and have nobody ever hear from me again. All that I did meant nothing, all those years taping up injuries and working sick and I’d worked for WWF for at least three hundred days a year for at least sixteen years and it meant nothing to them in the end.”

A lot has happened in WWE and Hart’s life since he punched McMahon. He continued to open up about the situation where he said he has gotten over the Montreal Screwjob because all the other struggles that have happened along the way took precedent.

“You get past it when you go through other struggles in your life. When I deal with my brother Owen getting killed, and Bulldog, so many other wrestling friends of mine that have passed away. You know to having a stroke and almost dying from a stroke years ago and having my brush with prostate cancer two years ago. It’s like I don’t have time to worry about what happened with Shawn Michaels or Vince McMahon almost thirty years ago.

“If I had to do it again I would have probably done the exact same thing again. I have no regrets on my behavior. I look at it myself in some ways as my crowning moment. My moment to stand up and say I’m a businessman and I’m gonna protect myself and you don’t have the right to destroy me. You might have a contract that employes me as a wrestler but you don’t have the right to destroy me, rape me. When I look at what I did, what I stood up for I believe I stood up for all the boys in wrestling.”

Hart said he sees a little bit of himself in CM Punk. After Survivor Series ’97, there was talk that McMahon might press charges against The Hitman for punching him. Hart continued to comment on how he feels Punk stood up for not only himself, but the rest of the locker room when he walked out of WWE after the 2014 Royal Rumble.

“I think the same could have been said about CM Punk as an example. You know his standing up and saying, ‘hey I’m doing all the work around here, you’re gonna give Batista and Brock Lesnar and Triple H all these guys who are part-timers who are home every day, they’re getting all the main event matches at WrestleMania and I’m the one pulling the wagon around here and I wanna be in the main event.’ They tried to smooth it over and sugarcoat it and offer him everything but a main event spot so he quit like he held them up on that.

“I heard some guys talking bad about CM Punk in the car about he wasn’t one of the boys or something like that. I’m thinking, ‘he gave up so much to prove a point for the wrestlers.’ You know that the wrestlers are doing the work, put the wrestlers in the main event spot. He stood on those principals and he lost his job, gave up a lot to make that point but he was right and he took a bullet for the industry. I’m glad he won that case a few weeks ago because I’m sure that there was a lot of pressure on him to wear him down and break him in that case.”

Former WWE Tag Team Champion Jim ‘The Anvil’ Neidhart passed away this morning. He was 63-year old.

Cauliflower Alley Club president Brain Blair broke the news earlier:

“It is with a sad heart that I share with you the passing of a long time friend and colleague, Jim ‘The Anvil’ Neidhart. Your thoughts and prayers for the family are appreciated.

Neidhart, born James Henry Neidhart on 8 February 1955 in Tampa, FL, was a natural athlete, excelling at track and field before moving on to pro football. He made the books of the Oakland Raisers and Dallas Cowboys, but never made an appearance for either team.

Instead, he turned his head to wrestling, heading to Canada to learn under the tutelage of the great Stu Hart. It was whilst training in The Dungeon that he met his first wife, Stu’s daughter Elizabeth, and long-term tag team partner Bret Hart.

As part of the Hart Foundation, Neidhart twice claimed tag gold in the WWF during a seven year spell of duos’ dominance. Bret’s emergence as a singles star left his former partner somewhat rudderless, and after a failed attempt to revive the tandem alongside brother-in-law Owen, Neidhart drifted between Japan, WCW, and ECW, before eventually returning to Stamford in 1994. After a forgettable stint as the one-note Who, a more substantial Hart Foundation was formed, propping up many of the company’s best angles before Bret Hart’s acrimonious departure following Survivor Series ’97.

After retiring, Neidhart had the pleasure of seeing his daughter Natalya promote women’s wrestling to its greatest height in WWE.

WWE Hall of Famer Bret Hart spoke with Sky Sports on the different reactions he’d receive from fans, not wanting to turn heel, and his enjoyment of being a hero to fans. Here are some of the highlights:

Getting bigger responses in Europe and Canada, compared to the US:

“I’m not saying it is, but it might also be that sometimes Americans can come off as so much better than everyone else. Being a Canadian may have set me apart from some of the American heroes that were coming through at the time, like Macho Man or Ultimate Warrior. I always had a much softer approach to my interviews and promos. I was not so much that wrestler that was yelling at the screen, I was always the one that was talking to my fans.

“I think I was different and maybe the first wrestler to come along in a long time that it wasn’t about how big I was or how big my arms were. I didn’t have 24-inch pythons or face paint and things like that. I just had my wrestling skills, and it was just about my wrestling skills and the stories I could tell in my matches.”

Vince McMahon talking him into being a heel:

“I very much worried about losing my fan base when they wanted to turn me heel. I remember that Vince McMahon laughed and joked on the phone when he called me to tell me, and I said ‘I don’t want to turn heel, I don’t want to be a bad guy.’ I really took pride in being a worldwide hero, much the same as John Cena today. But much the same as John Cena today, the wrestling audience was wanting something different. They wanted somebody new. So it was like, ‘Do I change styles to stay alive?’

“Vince said ‘Give me five minutes and I’ll talk you into it’, and I said ‘No, thank you, I’m not interested,’ but he talked me into it pretty fast because my option as a good guy was that I was going to wrestle Vader for the next year. That was going to be brutal, and I was thinking ‘anything but Vader.’ So the heel turn was a difficult choice to make, and I remember Vince stressed to me – and I wonder whether that was the beginning of them trying to tear me down – that ‘You are going to be a hero everywhere else except the United States.’

“I don’t know if they were totally honest. I remember when we wrestled that pay-per-view in ’97 in Birmingham that they were clearly trying to turn me heel or trying to turn the audience against me on the mic and commentary, and that was Vince and Jim Ross and guys like that.”

Appreciating every fan and being a hero to them:

“I take being a hero really seriously. I know there are a lot of kids that watched me that are all grown up now, and they’ve watched me evolve in my life, from fighting cancer to fighting a stroke, even the screw job and my brother Owen passing. There are all these things I’ve had to go through in the public eye, and I think people respect me for how I carried myself.

“Growing up in wrestling – and I have been involved in wrestling really my entire life – I learned right from the get-go that you never forget your fans. They are the ones that put your food on the table and pay your bills. My dad was always genuine with the fans and said, ‘You must appreciate every single one of them,’ and I always did. I always tried to make time for every autograph or every picture. What’s an autograph? It’s the simplest thing in the world.”

Hart also discussed living in the public eye. You can check out the full interview by clicking here.